When Winter is in full swing with blustery temperatures, it tempts one to hunker down and nest by a cozy fire with a cup of tea. Another option is to dine on this Hearty Spanish-Style Lentil and Chorizo Soup with Kale and be instantly warmed and satisfied.
Some reviewers thought 1 1/2 pounds was too much chorizo, so they cut back to 1 pound, sounds reasonable right? Not in this household. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as “too much chorizo” according to my husband. We increased to 2 pounds! (Although afterward, he acquiesced and said 1 pound would probably have been enough.)
And for another punch of meaty flavor, Hubby also incorporated a chopped, small-but-thick, piece of Jamón Serrano. The other change in elevating flavors was using our homemade ham stock. WOW, now that was a game changer! With all of that extra meat, he added another cup of water to the ham stock, making a total of 8 cups of liquid.
For a flavor boost, Russ decided to add some Jamón Serrano (shown above, lower right) while prepping the aromatics.
To ensure creamy, well-seasoned lentils with intact skins, soak them in a warm brine for 30 minutes before cooking. For a rich, vegetal flavor, sweat onion, carrot, and parsley in a covered pot to provide a background taste to the main ingredients: heady smoked paprika, meaty chorizo, earthy lentils, and tart sherry vinegar. For a finish, garnish it with an Indian preparation called a tarka, a mixture of spices and aromatics bloomed in oil.
Not to beat a dead horse, but you know by now we are not fans of curly kale, so we almost always use lacinato, or dinosaur kale in its place. They are both prepped the same way, so it’s up to you which variety you care to include.
“We prefer French green lentils, or lentilles du Puy, for this recipe, but it will work with any type of lentil except red or yellow. Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater. If Spanish-style chorizo is not available, kielbasa sausage can be used. Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sherry vinegar. Smoked paprika comes in three varieties: sweet (dulce), bittersweet or medium hot (agridulce), and hot (picante). For this recipe, we prefer the sweet kind.” —Cook’s Illustrated
TIP: Make sure to buy the Spanish cooking chorizo which is soft and uncured as opposed to the cured, hard Spanish chorizo.
Hearty Spanish-Style Lentil and Chorizo Soup with Kale
- 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) lentils, picked over and rinsed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large onion
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds Spanish-style cooking chorizo sausage, pricked with fork several times
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 7 cups water, plus extra as needed (we used homemade ham stock)
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 12 ounces kale, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Place lentils and 2 teaspoons salt in heatproof container. Cover with 4 cups boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, finely chop three-quarters of onion (you should have about 1 cup) and grate remaining quarter (you should have about 3 tablespoons).
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chorizo to large plate.
- Reduce heat to low and add chopped onion, carrots, 1 tablespoon parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. (A chopped thick piece of Jamón Serrano was added with the carrots for another addition of flavor.) Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft but not brown, 25 to 30 minutes. If vegetables begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon water to pot.
- Add lentils and sherry vinegar to vegetables; increase heat to medium-high; and cook, stirring frequently, until vinegar starts to evaporate, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add 7 cups water (or ham stock), chorizo, bay leaves, and cloves; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in kale, cover, and continue to cook until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes longer.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add paprika, grated onion, garlic, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer.
- Remove chorizo and bay leaves from lentils. Stir paprika mixture into lentils and continue to cook until flavors have blended and soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
- When chorizo is cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into ¼-inch-thick slices. Return chorizo to soup along with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and heat through, about 1 minute.
- Season with salt, pepper, and up to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar to taste, and serve. (Soup can be made up to 3 days in advance.)
Adapted from a recipe found on CooksIllustrated.com